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February 17, 2014

NORTHWEST REGIONAL TOURNEY PREVIEW: Trio of state champs highlight talent-heavy boys bracket

CULLMAN — It’s often said the road to Birmingham leads through the Northwest Regional Tournament at Wallace State.

That indeed turned out to be the case in 2013 for three of this year’s 24 boys contenders — Class 5A Wenonah, 3A Madison Academy and 2A Tanner.

That trio, as well as the rest of the field, will take Tom Drake Coliseum by storm starting Tuesday with the largest schools — 6A — and the smallest — 1A. Wednesday will see 5A and 2A join in the fun, followed by 4A and 3A on Thursday. Titles will be doled out on Friday and Saturday.

Real-time stats for every game this week will be available at www.wallacestate.edu/nwregionals.

Admission is $8 for single entry or $30 for a week-long pass. Parking is $3.

Take a peek at a primer of the field:

Class 6A

% Hazel Green (21-12) vs. Bessemer City (17-7), Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

% Bob Jones (18-11) vs. Minor (18-12), Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

% Hazel Green: The Trojans have been a mainstay at Wallace State for the last three years and are the only team back from the 2013 6A field. The 2012 regional champs fell 64-59 to Sparkman in double overtime of last season’s regional final. Hazel Green split with Bob Jones in two close contests this season. Ethan Stair and UAB signee Lewis Sullivan led Hazel Green to a 55-48 sub-regional win over Decatur.

% Bessemer City: The Tigers are hoping their magic didn’t run out on a last-second shot at the sub-regional stage. Johnathan Coleman’s close-range jumper vaulted Bessemer City to a 65-64 win over Hoover. Micah Fuller boasted 28 points, and Alexander Johnson had 13 in the thriller. The Tigers lost to Minor 71-64 back in November.

% Bob Jones: Like Bessemer City, the Patriots had to fight tooth and nail to punch their ticket to the Northwest Regional Tournament. The Patriots briefly lost their lead in the fourth quarter before regaining it for good in a 55-53 knee-knocker against James Clemens in Friday’s sub-regional. Josh Mitchell (23 points), Tanner Finley (12) and Dalton Barkley (11) carried the offensive load for Bob Jones.

% Minor: A year away from Wallace State was too long for the Tigers, who eked by Tuscaloosa County 59-55 to rejoin the fun at the junior college in Hanceville. Minor hasn’t come out on top of a regional contest since pulling off the feat twice in a row in 1997 and 1998.

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